The UK operator of US fastfood chain Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) has been forced to withdraw its Vegetable Twister product from sale after an investigation by the member of the public found that the meal was being falsely marketed as suitable for a meat-free diet.

While the meal itself does not contain animal products, it is fried in the same oil used to cook the chicken items for which the chain is famous.

Shafiq Rehman, from Greater Manchester, claims that he bought the meal on several occasions and was informed by KFC employees each time that it was suitable for vegetarians. He explained to the Manchester Evening News: “To obtain evidence, we conducted an undercover video investigation in the Greater Manchester area. On our video, we have 11 KFC staff in numerous stores selling us the Vegetable Twister meal and stating it is suitable for vegetarians.”

A spokesman from KFC commented: “The vast majority of customers come to us for chicken. We have never promoted the Vegetable Twister as suitable for vegetarians and this is clearly marked on the menu board.

“However, a handful of customers have said they have been told otherwise by some staff. Although all our employees are fully trained, we cannot guarantee that there won’t be further misunderstandings. We are not prepared to take that risk, so we have reluctantly removed the product [nationwide].”

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The case is reminiscent of a similar embarrassment for US burger behemoth McDonald’s, which went under the spotlight in May of this year for frying its chips in beef fat after previously maintaining that only vegetable oil was used.